Press release: Attack on academic freedom and critical exchange at the University of Hamburg
3. April 2023
The rooms for the conference "We Want Our World Back," which is scheduled for the Easter weekend (April 7–9) and expected to host 1,300 attendees, including prominent scientists, intellectuals, and activists such as John Holloway and María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, have been revoked for political reasons. The conference is part of the series "Challenging Capitalist Modernity", in which three other conferences have already taken place at the University of Hamburg in the last 10 years.
The President of the University, Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren, has decided not to make the premises available after having received a non-public letter from the Büro für Verfassungsschutz Hamburg, the Hamburg state agency responsible for domestic intelligence, accusing the conference of political extremism. The General Students’ Committee (AStA) of the University of Hamburg, who are the organizers of the conference “We Want Our World Back” with the support of the Network for an Alternative Quest, condemn this political decision, which is obviously directed against academic freedom, the autonomy of the student body and the critical intercultural discourse at the university, as follows:
“This decision by the university administration is completely unjustified and a critical intrusion into the necessary exchange of ideas among students about perspectives on how our future world can be shaped. This interference represents an attack on academic freedom and contradicts everything the University of Hamburg, our university, stands for.”
Out of necessity, the AStA takes legal action against this decision by the university administration. Despite the administration‘s ongoing refusal to engage in talks with us, the AStA remains open to dialogue. Furthermore, we have published the declaration linked below, calling on the university to make its premises available to the conference. It has already been signed by hundreds of professors, academics and initiatives, with most of the signatures arriving within a few hours. The current list of signatories is available on the AStA’s and the Network for an Alternative Quest’s respective websites.
Furthermore, we will be introducing a resolution under participation of multiple status groups (students, professors etc.) at the next session of Hamburg University’s Academic Senate (Akademischer Senat). The resolution is directed against attempts by the Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz to influence the content of academic conferences and activities at the University of Hamburg.
In addition, the AStA is planning a series of critical seminars and talks on the history and role of the
Verfassungsschutz, as there is an obvious need for awareness-raising with regard to the political
function of the domestic intelligence service.
Regardless of all this, the conference will take place in Hamburg during the planned period. Further information will follow shortly.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at the telephone number
+4915216198732 and the e-mail addresses sozialebewegung"AT"asta.uni-hamburg.de and
With kind regards,
AStA of the University of Hamburg Network for an Alternative Quest
03 April 2023